Tech High Flier’s Tiller Concern
Cropin can now read over 250 crops and do a predictive analysis on yields and shows ways to improve agriculture
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Krishna Kumar had a typical high-flying job in GE in the technology business until one day back in September 2010 he was drawn to the problems the agricultural industry faced in the country: that of low productivity, farmer suicides, unpredictable weather and more. Krishna wanted to do something for the farming community and so he raised $10,000 from family and friends, and began writing technology to help improve productivity in agriculture. “I told my friends that if I make money, you will also make money,” says Kumar, Founder, Cropin.
It was early days for agri-tech, but Kumar prodded on. “There was no specific fund for agtech,” notes Kumar, “so it was very difficult to raise funds. People also did not know what we were doing and planning. We were not only the first in India but also in the world to build in agtech. In the US, this started in 2012, we started in 2010.”
Kumar started to write the technology to read and understand crops and predict yields across millions of farms. He started learning about integrating technology and crop sowing and reaping patterns. In 2011, Seeders funded the company with $40,000 seed capital which helped the company to take the technology forward.
The firm also started to build the technology not only for farmers but also other players in the ecosystem such as governments and corporates.
When Kumar started out, the firm just had about 3-4 people. Soon other investors joined the venture. Now Cropin has over 100 people on its roster, which includes data scientists and agriculture scientists.
Cropin can now read over 250 crops and do a predictive analysis on yields and shows ways to improve agriculture. Cropin also works across the ecosystem which includes corporates, developmental agencies and government institutions to ultimately reach farmers so that they can use this technology, and improve their incomes.
Says Kumar: “We firmly believe that if any of the ecosystem players don’t do well, the whole ecosystem is affected. We thought that we should integrate the whole system and go B2B, and go with the private companies, which go with the farmer, and they can take this technology for their benefit and for the farmer too.”
Essentially, Cropin helps the farmer in knowing better sowing and reaping techniques, among others, which enables the farmer to raise the quality of his output. This includes teaching the farmer about pesticides use, different seeds, and irrigation techniques which would improve the yields of the farm, and ultimately increase farm income.
Cropin also works closely with corporates to, say, help manufacture potatoes, which equips the company with real-time farm updates. Cropin called the technology Smart Farm, a mobile app that is used by corporates, government or developmental agencies. This app registers the farmer on the platform and the system starts guiding their agronomist and also the farmer as to what should be done at what stage, which essentially is a step-by-step guidance.
At the same time, through guided satellite imagery of the weather pattern and through machine learning and predictive analysis, the technology can predict which part of the farm has better yields, and also predict the yields even from one acre of the farm.
Later, the firm also expanded this service to seed production, which is another important ingredient in the farming ecosystem. The technology is also being used by financial institutions such as lending and insurance firms that are in the business of lending to farmers or insuring their crops, which enables them to see how they can help the farmer.
“Today, we work in 29 countries, and we have processed more than 3.6 million acres of farmland,” notes Kumar. “Close to 1.6 million farmers have benefited through our technologies right from Japan to Europe, and other countries in Asia, and the US.”